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The regimental quick march, The Rising of the Lark, is an arrangement of an eighteenth-century Welsh song, probably from the pen of the harpist David Owen. Men of Harlech and Men of Glamorgan are played in slow time.
On St David's Day (1 March) leeks are presented by a member of the royal family. In 1969 Princess Anne made her first solo engagement doing this.
The senior company of the regiment is called the Prince of Wales's Company and its old nickname 'The Jam Boys' tells of the austere time after the Second World War when it made an application for extra jam rations to compensate guardsmen in its ranks.
This 'super regiment' was blueprinted in the 'Future Army Structures' of 2004 to accommodate the six famous-name Scottish infantry regiments. It was the most controversial of the planned mergers of that year and the motto Nemo me impune lacessit (Let no one provoke me with impunity), which was displayed by three of the condemned regiments, spoke for the mood of the Scottish people in 2004.
Highland regiments had been formed in times of war from 1689 but the Jacobite uprisings in the north of Scotland guaranteed that none achieved permanence until well into the next century. Foot regiments raised in the Lowlands and employed against the Jacobites were given a place in the army and stood among the senior regiments of infantry. The Royal Scots were born in 1633 under a warrant of the Privy Council for service with the French Army, and on their return to Charles II gained seniority of the infantry. The Royal Scots Fusiliers came out of the troubles of 1678, when the Earl of Mar founded a regiment to police the lawless clans and the Presbyterian Covenanters, a sect persecuted by the Stuarts. When that dynasty came to an abrupt dip in 1688 the Covenanters found themselves on the right side of the law- and readily pledged their martial arm, called the Cameronians, to the new King's cause to put down the Jacobites. A new regiment, quickly mustered in Edinburgh to help the King's forces in Scotland, later evolved to become the King's Own Scottish Borderers (KOSB).
Men of the 7th (Service) Battalion Seaforth Highlanders returning from the front at the Somme, July 1916
Of the sixty-one Highland regiments raised between 1689 and 1803 only eleven secured a permanent position in the army. The first of these eleven was assembled at Aberfeldy in 1739 from independent companies of Highland watch that had been set up fourteen years before. It was known as the 'Black Watch' because of the dark government tartan worn by the lads of these companies. Other famous Highland regiments, the Seaforth, Gordon, Cameron and the Argyll and Sutherland, were enlisted later on in the century as a direct response to the colonial and French wars. The Highland Light Infantry, deprived of its Highland dress in 1809, was often categorised with the Lowlanders, and eventually merged with a Lowland regiment.
Bandsmen of the Royal Highland Fusiliers in No. 1 dress, c. 1988
Historic regimental headquarters are located all over Scotland and the Borders:
Royal Scots (Royal Regiment) - Edinburgh
Royal Scots Fusiliers - Ayr
King's Own Scottish Borderers - Berwick-upon-Tweed
Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) - Lanark
Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) - Perth
Highland Light Infantry - Glasgow
Seaforth Highlanders - Fort George
Member of the Napoleonic Association in the garb of the 42nd Royal Highland Regiment at a 'living history' show in the 1990s
Gordon Highlanders - Aberdeen
Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders - Inverness
Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders - Stirling
Scottish infantry uniforms have long been seen as the most distinctive and glamorous in the army. Highland regiments acquired the feathered bonnet, kilt and hose of their native north lands, though many of them lost the garb in 1809 for a want of Highland recruits. These last looked little different from their English counterparts until after the Crimean War, when a Highland 'doublet' with double Inverness flaps was issued to the Highland regiments. Full Highland attire was acquired by 1881, when the Lowland regiments were provided with doublet and trews. Regimental tartans went on to individualise the uniforms and the Royal Stuart tartan was permitted for pipers of the KOSB, Black Watch and Royal Scots as a mark of royal favour.